Review by Moon 2
"Far and Away, the Worst Final Fantasy Ever."
About a year ago when I had hear rumors of a Final Fantasy for the GameCube, I was excited. Especially with the fact the it would be multi-player. I mean, who wouldn't get excited about the idea of being able to slash and cast Blizzard and other spells with your friends in what is arguably the greatest RPG series of all time.
But when it was released, there was a lot of bad karma around it, and needless to say I avoided it for awhile. But then I heard people saying that Crystal Chronicles was quote, "...the rebirth of the Final Fantasy series." They also went on to say that games like FF IX and X had killed the series, which most of us know is completly false.
However, I found their views interesting, so when I was at the local rental place to pick out a game FFCC caught my eye. I laid down my four bucks in a hope that I would actually get what I paid for. Then when I got home and popped this in I realized that this garbage wasn't even worth just four bucks, much less the fifty dollars and even more if you happened to buy a Game Boy Advance and a link cable. I returned the game within an hour of rental and got another (FUN) game.
The game starts with you creating your character and setting out in a caravan to refill a Crystal Chalice that protects your village from a poison mist the fills your world. Not only is this story line stupid (How can your village be protected from the mist when you take the chalice with you?), it really hinders the gameplay.
The game pace is slow, the menus are clunky, you are never really attached to your character like other dungeon crawlers or RPG's give you, and that is really a downer. I'll show you the horrible controls, the good music, the sad gameplay, the great graphics, and eventually I hope to expose the monstrocity for what it really is.
Here is an area this game actually excels at. The character models are very good, even though they don't vary much. There's not much difference to monsters in a single level than size, but this is a dungeon crawler so I can easially over-look that. The opening scene gives you a good look at the world, and right away it prepares you for the environments you'll see. The backgrounds are well done, and the water and other particle effects are pretty good, but not as good as say Mario Sunshine, and don't even compare to Champions of Norrath.
There is a pretty good variety in the backgrounds, from forests, to caves, etc, you'll really get a feel for the areas your characters explore. But this doesn't matter since you'll never really want to play this game much anyway.
The music is where this game is at. The opening song is exactly what you'd expect from a Final Fantasy game, and the rest is also Final Fantasy quality. However, when compared to other dungeon crawlers like Champions of Norrath, who have an almos Lord of the Rings level score, it's too hard to overlook.
There are no voices in the game, which is just unacceptable with this type of game. I can understand no voices in games like Mega Man and Legend of Zelda, but Final Fantasy had a grand voice cast with FF X, and Kingdom Hearts, and once again you must take away points when compared to Champions of Norrath and Baldurs Gate II: Dark Alliance
This is where the rotten layer of the game begins to show its self. First of all just running is sort of a pain, and feels a little loose. Also, to use long range attack you must stand still and aim a little cursor which is really annoying because it leaves you vulnerable to attack.
Just attacking is a pain, because you can hardly get off a single combo without getting attacked by an enemy and stopping you in mid-strike. Not to mention that just to attack, defend, cast spells, and use items you have to scroll through a menu at the top of the screen which is way too slow when in the heat of a battle. Imagine trying to pull off a three strike combo on an enemy and then trying to scroll through a menu with the L and R buttons and choosing "Defend" and then hitting A to pull of a simple back flip that hardly works, and then switching back to "Attack" and trying to fight again. You'll understand my frustration factor. I understand that it might be a little easier with a GBA, but devices like this shouldn't be neccessary just to play a game. Why the option of assigning actions to buttons on the GameCube conrtoller wasn't included is beyond my comprehension. Someone at Square-Enix should've got doct pay for this.
True to the saying, no matter what a game does right, if it's not good in the gameplay department, it's not worth playing. Controlling your characters is just the least of your problems in this game. FFCC runs on a "bucket" system, where you or a partner (a moogle in one player mode who gets tired fast) must carry a "Crystal Chalice" that surrounds your party in a little ring, "aura", that protects you from the poison mist that fills your world. This is by far one of the stupidest ideas ever incorperated into a game. Just to attack an enemy they have to be inside the little ring that fills your screen, which mean you, and if you have any, friends must be huddled in a little circle waiting for enemies to enter your aura. Not to mention to countless screams, yells, and arguements that arise when someone leaves the aura, or when someone has to carry the bucket.
Attacking, as mentioned before, is hard, and just trying to combine your spells with friends is too hard, you have to time your cast perfectly which make the ol' verbal 1 2 3 count neccessarry.
What should be one of the good parts of the game, creating your character, is in fact shot down once you realize that all you get to do is decide which race you are, whether you are male or female, and then choose from 1 of 4 preset faces and bodies, which means that more than likely you and a friend might have the same face.
After that you decide what family you belong to, such as Weaver, or a Farmer. Throughout your journies you send your family items, which they will then create new usable items for you and they sent right back to you. This is the one interesting part of player customization.
Leveling up your character is way too slow, and I mean sloth combined with a snail that has salt poored on it slow. You beat a boss and you get to assign one point to your abilities. ONE POINT! I like being able to level up your character at a sort of slow pace, but not this much!
All in all, not many people are going to like this game. There are going to be countless of Final Fantasy freaks who will run out and buy this game no questions asked (the Final Fantasy bug strikes again!). But I hope most will return the game, or just don't plain buy it. The only way you'll get pleasure from this game is to know that your friends are suffering the same fate.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 05/09/04
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